The sun was the earliest form of phototherapy for skin diseases like psoriasis, first used thousands of years ago, and still prescribed today as “heliotherapy”. As we know, the sun produces a broad spectrum of energy that reaches us on earth which has many uses to support life on our planet. About half of the sun’s energy is infrared and a little less than half is visible. The most biologically active range of the spectrum is Ultra Violet which is less than 5% of the energy of the sun. Ultra Violet B is a subset of this range of which accounts for about 0.2% of the energy of the sun. With proper exposure, sunlight can be beneficial, however, excessive exposure to sunlight is associated with increased risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging.
Today when treating chronic skin diseases like psoriasis, many physicians still recommend sunlight, however scientific studies have discovered the wavelengths of sunlight that are most beneficial in producing healing in psoriasis and less likely to cause burns.
In 1981 a Harvard Medical School study was published showing which part of the spectrum is responsible for clinical benefit of psoriasis skin conditions. The study showed that a narrow subset of the Ultra Violet B range (NB-UVB) is most effective in clearing psoriasis. This therapeutic range was later dubbed Narrow Band Ultra Violet B or NB-UVB. The benefits of narrow band UVB have since been confirmed in many other studies, and a large study of patients who had received NB-UVB therapy showed no increase in the occurrence of skin cancer.
Today, when treating chronic skin conditions like psoriasis, most physicians recommend NB-UVB. Patients receiving NB-UVB therapy for problems such as psoriasis and vitiligo should be careful to cover treated areas with sunscreen or clothing when they go outside, to reduce risk of burning. Before their next UVB treatment, all traces of sunscreen should be removed from affected areas. Occasionally physicians may prescribe both heliotherapy to treat large skin areas and NB-UVB treatment to help clear individual problem areas. Care should be taken to avoid receiving a “double dose” of light.
Andre Gamelin, Clarify Medical engineer and mobile UVB technology inventor, commented, “Sun light has one big advantage in psoriasis care—it’s free. On the other hand, light dosage from the sun is difficult to control. It’s not just a matter of the amount of time you spend in the sun. The light dose you receive varies depending on geographic location, including altitude, time of year, time of day and weather conditions.”
“Our handheld, mobile, home UVB treatment has a number of advantages”, Andre said.” It is always available day or night, it delivers only the energy shown to be most therapeutic and least likely to burn, and is focused directly– on only– the skin areas that need treatment. And, no matter what area you are treating, there is no need for embarrassing encounters with your neighbors!”
Andre continued, “We have done some innovative things with our UVB lighting technology to create a convenient, effective treatment method that we think will help people see psoriasis clearance more quickly. We’re hoping people will look at the patient results and wonder “How did they do that?”